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Protect your hearing

Noise-induced hearing loss happens because excessive noise damages some of the hearing mechanisms in the inner ear. Loud sounds begin their journey from some source — like a gun, an explosion, or music from super-powerful loudspeakers — and they travel through the air, travel through the ear, and begin wreaking havoc.

Remember Quasimodo? Bells the size of Notre Dame would have most sensible people groping frantically for a pair of earplugs, but it’s not just the mega sounds that do the damage. Repeated exposure to loud sounds will do it too. When noise exceeds a certain level it begins to destroy the nerve endings in the inner ear. If this happens repeatedly, the nerve endings become damaged beyond repair, depriving you of your hearing, forever.

When does noise become dangerous? 

As a rule of thumb, the following situations put you in the danger zone:

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    If you have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard

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    If the noise hurts your ears or makes them ring

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    If you find it difficult to hear for several hours after hearing the noise

What damages our hearing is the intensity and duration of the sound. Sound is measured in decibels (dB), where 0 is the faintest sound the human ear can detect and where 180 would be the noise a rocket would make as it launches into space. In our daily lives, normal conversation would be at the 60 dB level, a lawn mower would be at 90 dB, a chain saw at 100 dB, a loud rock concert would be at 115 dB and a jet engine would be at 140 dB. Many experts believe that continued exposure to more than 85 decibels is asking for trouble. The longer you are exposed to a loud noise and the closer you are to it, the higher the risk is of damage.

 

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Do you consider protecting your hearing from permanent damage during the festival season? Irreversible hearing loss can occur when listening to loud music, especially if you are exposed to it over a longer period of time. We have created four tips on how to protect our hearing and when to seek help:

  • Wear earplugs – and remember they only work if properly fitted in the ear canal.

  • Use ear defenders for kids as it can be hard to properly fit the ear plugs.

  • Keep a distance to the big loudspeakers.

  • Use an app to measure the sound level.

After a festival, you may well experience ringing in the ears or that you don’t hear well. This is a physical reaction to loud noise levels. If you still experience these symptoms one day after the concert, we recommend you contact a hearing care professional to discuss your concerns so they can act accordingly.

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Noise damage at an early age

Noise induced hearing loss isn’t just reserved for adults. Recent studies show an alarming increase in this condition in teenagers. Evidence suggests that loud rock music — plus music blasted directly into the ears via earphones may be the primary culprits here. In extreme cases noise damage can cause ringing in the ears. Called tinnitus, this condition is caused by damage to the hearing nerve and it often becomes permanent. Many people in their fifties, who grew up with rock and roll, are feeling the effects of either noise induced hearing loss or tinnitus today. Fortunately, hearing aids are becoming more effective at addressing their special needs, and scientists may hopefully one day find some super-effective means by which to combat tinnitus.

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What can you do to avoid problems?

The answer is easy: don’t overload your ears! And if you do, wear ear protectors — whether it’s earplugs or heavy-duty, full ear mufflers. Wear them if you are working in an excessively noisy environment. Wear them when using power tools or other noisy equipment. Wear them if you go hunting or when you ride a motorcycle or other noisy vehicles. Ear protectors are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and can even be custom made. Your local hearing care professional may be able to offer advice in this area.

Find a hearing care professional

  • Check your hearing

    Think that you may have hearing loss? Take the first step and complete this short evaluation

  • Getting help

    What to do when you suspect hearing loss, and the process of finding the right solution

  • Tinnitus

    What is tinnitus, why do some people get it, and what can be done to relieve the symptoms

  • Find a hearing centre

    A hearing care professional can test your hearing and devise a treatment that suits you